We have all seen advertising and infomercials telling us we can get rich while we’re asleep. A quick Google search for the term yields all kinds of results and ideas to help us start living the dream.
Unfortunately, this article isn’t going to claim to make you rich, but you can certainly make a very good living from affiliate marketing with hard work. If you want some inspiration, check out Rosalind Gardner, who reportedly makes an income of circa $500k per year.
According to Statista, businesses are spending more than ever on affiliate marketing. They will continue to do so in the early part of the 2020s as a minimum. It is an excellent income stream for companies and can be cost-effective compared to resourcing their own marketing teams.
In this introduction, we will discuss how to start an affiliate marketing online business, the pros and cons, and what it takes to earn a respectable passive income from doing it. This article focuses on the view of the affiliate rather than the business. Still, if you are a business looking to hire affiliates for your products, there are plenty of guides online.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
An affiliate marketer is someone who promotes a company’s products. They do this via a unique link provided by the company. Every time a customer completes the required action using that link, the affiliate receives a commission. There are different types of actions that can result in a commission which we will talk about later.
There is no limit to the number of products for companies you can work/promote products. For example, you could work as an affiliate for a company selling sports clothing and promote a gaming company to help bring them traffic.
It can take a long time to build up all your promotions and links. For many affiliate marketers, the earnings can be tiny at the start, or even nothing. However, if you put in the hard work to get set up, it will pay dividends in the end.
We spoke about Rosalind Gardner earlier, but there are plenty of others who report earning considerable amounts after grafting for a few years.
How does affiliate marketing work?
Once somebody clicks the link that the company (sometimes called the advertiser or merchant), a cookie gets stored on their device. This is a small file that will help the advertiser associate the lead back to your link later. Once a visitor clicks on the cookie, it will have a duration associated with it. For example, if they leave the computer and come back later, it will still count as your lead. The duration can vary by merchant.
Affiliate Payment Arrangements
Typically, there are three types of payment arrangements offered by advertisers. Other types do exist, but they are usually specific to certain industries.
The advertiser will pay the affiliate whenever they send a lead through who ends up making a purchase. This could be a fixed amount per sale or percentage-based. The format will depend on the type and value of the products you are selling.
This type of arrangement is far more beneficial to the affiliate. Commissions will be earned for every lead that clicks through to the advertiser site. They don’t need to purchase anything. While the commission levels will be less than a pay-per-sale scheme, forcing leads to transact takes some of the pressure off.
A pay-per-lead arrangement would pay affiliates for sending through leads who complete a form such as a subscription or registration. The advertiser is interested in collecting leads rather than sales at this stage of their strategy.
As an affiliate, you may find that you are stronger at promoting within a certain type of scheme. It is worthwhile having a mix of arrangements in your portfolio to assess, which produces the best income for you.
Joining an Affiliate Program
To join an affiliate program, you can either use a product’s in house process or join a marketplace such as Amazon Associates or ShareASale, to name a couple of the most popular. These marketplaces place will provide you with product merchants who want their products to be promoted. For example, upon signing up with Amazon, you might see a screen like below to select what products you want to start advertising.
There are also affiliate training programs. A good example would be Wealthy Affiliate. What is the wealthy affiliate program? They offer training courses to get you started with a website and cover all the basics to help you get the ball rolling. The best part is they have an active community where you can ask questions 24/7, and you can find many custom trainings on just about anything created from various members.
There are hundreds of affiliate programs out there, but it is important to be vigilant when choosing the right one. Among all the high earners, some have had horror stories whereby the merchant never pays them a commission. The signs of a rogue scheme could be the promise of high commissions without a reputation to back that up.
When looking at programs to join, there are some key things to bear in mind:
Make sure the program can payout using a method available in your country. PayPal is the most common and popular as it is an international method.
When starting out in affiliate marketing, check the minimum payout threshold required to sign up for these platforms. For example, you may have to earn up to $100 commission before you can withdraw your cash, no matter how hard you’ve worked. When starting, make sure the level is achievable.
Stick with reputable affiliate networks and programs. We’ve already mentioned Shareasale, Amazon Associates, and Wealthy Affiliate, but others include CJ Affiliate, Ebay Partner Network, and Clickbank. The main difference between them will be payment terms, products on offer, and cookie lifespan. For example, CJ Affiliate offers a 400-day cookie lifetime meaning that if a customer returns to purchase after clicking on your link for anything up to 400 days, you can still be paid.
We touched upon cookie length with CJ Affiliate, but be sure to check this before signing up for a program. Some may not offer any terms, and you are best avoiding those sites.
Becoming an affiliate marketer
Affiliate marketing doesn’t require you to have an in-depth technical knowledge of everything digital, although it would certainly help. We are not going to discuss the ins and out of search engine optimization (SEO) and website design in this article, but they are beneficial skills to be familiar with for affiliates. On top of that, knowledge of different social media platforms can keep you ahead of the game when it comes to promoting products.
Picking a product niche
The first step is to find a product that you have a genuine interest in promoting and make that your niche. If there is something you are passionate about, it is far easier to try and sell the idea to other people. Don’t make the mistake of signing up for products purely because of the lure of high commission levels.
For example, the StartUpSurvival channel on YouTube promotes products that they are interested in and post up affiliate links during the video. Videos are incredibly relatable and a powerful tool if you are comfortable with it.
Another Youtuber with millions of subscribers is Marques Brownlee, who looks at tech products. As you go through YouTube, you will notice that many of those who review products are simply affiliate marketers.
Reviews and promotions for your chosen product need to be genuinely helpful to pick up traffic. The days of posting up a link in several places and hoping for the best are long gone. Customers expect to have an experience when going through a purchase, and it is worth putting effort into your advertising.
Amazon Associates is a great starting point with the sheer volume of products at your disposal.
Blogs, webinars, social media
Once you have a product, think of all the channels where you can promote it. The growing digital ecosystem gives the affiliate marketer almost endless opportunities. Still, it is important to go somewhere that you’ll find the right audience.
For example, there would be little value in promoting products aimed at an older demographic via Instagram, as 75% of users are aged 18 to 24.
We have mentioned YouTube videos, but webinars and live streaming on sites like Facebook are also a great way to engage people with your chosen product. In a world post Covid-19, people watch a lot more videos with tutorials and guides being among the most popular.
Having a blog and YouTube channel for product reviews and guides is a must. This is where you will get organic traffic without having to pay for advertising.
Pay per click advertising
If you start to pick up some natural (organic) traffic, it might be time to invest in pay-per-click advertising. In short, this is spending money to get your ads to the top of search engine results when people are searching for certain keywords. Doing this successfully can quickly increase traffic and click-throughs on your links.
You are not going to start ranking with major retailers immediately. With some smart design work and keyword placement, it is possible to rank towards the top of Google. This is a broad topic that you should thoroughly research before committing to it.
This article has given a quick overview of what being an affiliate marketer is and how to get started. The key takeaway here is that affiliate marketing is not a get rich quick scheme. There is a lot of work to be done in selecting platforms, products, and merchants. Marketers need to spend time using different channels and types of media, working out how to get the best out of it. What works for one affiliate might not necessarily work for everyone.
If you find yourself overwhelmed, make sure to checkout affiliate training programs like Wealthy Affiliate to bring you up to speed before you start tackling the more advanced methods.
The good news is, you can earn an excellent passive income from affiliate marketing. If you enjoy promoting products and advertising, this is the perfect way to launch yourself into the digital world.
If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to Contact Us and we will be more than happy to help you out.
All the best,